Re: [Frameworks] Letter to other Filmmakers Artists

From: Els van Riel (email suppressed)
Date: Fri Jul 23 2010 - 05:48:27 PDT

Hi Frameworkers,

My name is Els van Riel, I'm living and working in Brussels, since 25
years now, with both 16mm-film and video.

Lovely to meet!

I agree that with both film and video, there are wonderfully truthful
moving images to make, each within its own limits.
To study the visual limits, many years ago, I put a magnifying glass
on both a video screened and a film screened (rear projection)... I
saw video pixels composed out of blue-red-green tiny rectangles
surrounded by a black border, the luminance determining the resulting
color of the image.
I know that nowadays many varieties exist due to the various new
video and projector systems, but next to them, with the same
magnifier, I saw and still see a 16mm film projected showing much
smaller pixels, sorry grains, each with a different 'personal' color,
and no black border...

(Putting a magnifier on your computer screen illustrates what I'm
referring to)

of course we don't watch movies with a magnifying glass, but I like
to believe our perceptive brain does...

all the best


On 23 Jul 2010, at 01:36, Doug Chaffin(("Douglas Graves")) wrote:

Thank you for reading my whole article and giving it some thought. I
appreciate your viewpoint and respect your opinions even when I don’t
agree with them. I would like to see some of your digital video work
(and film work?) if you would be willing to mail me a copy someday.

My writings and lectures are only my personal subjective opinions or
in some cases they are my best comprehension at the time of what the
“facts” are or what is “valid”, “right”, or “correct” about
something. The ignorant immature dialect of what is “right” or
“wrong” about something and the squabbles that some people can have
over it is disdainful to me and does not seem to help anyone or prove
anything except for those individuals’ ignorance and intolerance. I
try to be better than that but I apologize if any of my writings come
off that way.

>More to the point perhaps, 'pure celluloid' is the _practice_ of very
few filmmakers.

that honestly does not concern me. One of my goals is to start a
local and international organization that will help other filmmakers
afford celluloid and film equipment for their “purely cinematic”
movies so that more of them will be made. I don’t really care if it
amounts to just myself alone making these kinds of movies, it is
still what I love doing.

>I could make a rhetorical argument, if I should like, that film and
'digital' are far more alike than theyare different.

>The physics and mathematical physics of film capture and digital
capture are not at all disimilar - it's fine for you if you want to
generalize a difference between a number and a grain but the quantum
exchange of photon to electron (electron hole w/ potential) is not
really very different; you could say CMOS or CCD device gives greater
quantum efficiency but silver halide based film, (in it's favor
currently) allows for a logarithmic collection of photon events as
>opposed to the well in a CMOS photosite being a sum.

Your points are very intriguing to me and I will study more about
them. I am very excited by optics, light, and human vision and I will
always love to learn more about it. It is obvious to me that it is
undeniable, if only physically at least, that there is a difference
between a grain and a color dye coupler being exposed to light in a
chemical reaction to leave an image, as opposed to the different
process of a electronic recording of a sensor which relays
information by way of digits which create a simulated image made up
of pixels- that is a undeniable scientific-physical fact of nature.
Bits of real physical silver grains and red, green and blue color
dyes in layers being chemically changed by exposure to light is
different and aesthetically speaking I know it looks and feels
differently to me as a artistic experience. It is a different visual
look of textures and depth and sensation and movement that in my
favorite photo-chemical movies, especially the purely cinematic non-
story non-character and non-acted movies, which I love and which I
have never felt from anything else.

> the phenomenon of ?persistence of vision? the human eye cannot see
this and interprets the projected images as continuous motion.

>This is flat out incorrect. Moreover I suggest the neurophysiology we
>know is only begining to describe movies' mechanism of motion
>illusion; and certainly you _cannot_ claim any unique psycho-physical
>process for film projection itself !

To my knowledge, the physical scientific reality of the “separate
different individual” film frames, one at a time, being captured and
then projected at a certain rate per second is undeniable. The
intermittency-the quick moment of black between each frame- is also
undeniable. And the “persistence of vision” of the human eye when it
see these frames projected in rapid succession which blurs them in
continuous motion in the mind’s eye is also a physical fact. The
digital camera and projector are different from film in that the
digital image is actually continuous, the image is constantly being
scanned over gradually by another one a certain amount of times a
second. Digitally there are no cold hard “separate different
individual” pictures.

>Both mediums are abstractions of light in my view, **never** more than
approximate to *anything* encountered in the world - how can you
priviledge one over the other on the basis of some kind of purity ?
(in fact I would _critique_ high resolution high quality digital for
being TOO aproximate to the human visual system's contrast & contour
processing in the visual cortex (as signaled by the LGN visual
pathwaybased on retinal 'data') - anyway, how can you claim some kind
>of 'high ground of purity' here escapes me

>skipping the analogies.....

These are more fascinating issues that I want to study in more depth
and detail for myself. Thanks for the information.

> This is the first thing you've said that I agree with.

I’m glad we agree on something.

>>Why not copy them - as Kodak reduces it's product line to the exact
same thing you object to !

I aim to help in whatever way I can so that film stock manufacturers
and film labs will stay open and continue to make more kinds of film
and materials, ones which cannot be replaced or copied with any
aesthetic integrity or valid artistic purpose by any other different
kinds of technology.

>Please cite the information theory and physical formalism to support
the assertion that these qualities cannot be represented as data or

These are personal subjective aesthetic tastes and feelings of mine
that are clear as day to me and very powerful for me. I don’t know
how anyone else cannot love the kind of photo-chemical cinema that I
do and see the obvious aesthetic difference between it and nother art
form and technologies like digital.

All I can add is that in my case I have made these observations over
the last ten years without having had any bias or presupposition
about film and digital motion pictures. About 5 or 6 years ago I
started to assimilate my various experiences and began to slowly form
my beliefs about this issue. I am still open to other art forms and
technologies and I have enjoyed several digital video works but for
me so far they have not had a tenth of the excitement, pleasure,
beauty, and emotional power of my favorite purely cinematic photo-
chemical movies and my favorite cinematic moments, images, and
sequences that are contained within certain story-narrative movies
that were shot on photo-chemical film.

The differences between film and digital on a hard physical level are
incontrovertible to my knowledge. I think one of the basic
presuppositions or paradigms at the root of this confusion for some
people is that they only understand a film or digital camera as a
recording device, not as a artistic instrument used in the process of
creating a autonomous art form - a form that is intrinsic and
integral within itself and which can induce a unique aesthetic
experiences for people who have the responsive sensitivity for truly
appreciating it and experiencing it.

I believe that I haven’t loved any digital motion pictures –
particularly the ones that truly use digital video in artistic ways
that are autonomous and different from other art forms like film -
for the same reason I have not appreciated ballet or computer
animation or sculpture very much yet, because as of yet I lack the
required “responsive sensitivity” in taste and feeling for it. That
only means I am missing out on some great artistic experiences that I
could be having and I hope I can grow to truly appreciate other art
forms such as digital video, sculpture, ballet etc. But even then
that wouldn’t mean I would stop loving photo-chemical cinema for
itself as a special and irreplaceable art form. As of now it is my
favorite art form in particular and I’m grateful for that.

>Have you ever seen film scanned worked with in digital and written
back out to film ???

>Have you seen IMAX and 65/70 scanned at 8K and digitally projected
at 4K ??

>blah blah blah. Enough for now. I agree with you on 1 or 2 aspects of
motion signature differences but certainly not on slo-mo (have you
>seen Von Trier's "Antichrist ? or any work done with Phantom 65 ?)

I am interested in seeing Von Trier's "Antichrist” and something shot
on Phantom 65 cameras.

The essential thing for me seems to be photo-chemical film as the
origin source but I do prefer a mechanical projection of real film
prints whether they be 16mm, 35mm, 70mm, and IMAX. The intermittency
of the flicker effect, the cold hard separate individual images in
rapid succession, the way it feels with the sound and the montage,
and the quality of movement is all stronger and more exciting and
beautiful for me. I like 4K projection of photo-chemical movies and
DVDs, especially Blu Ray on huge flat screens, but it is still
somewhat truncated and compromised for me as a projection device, but
just in a few ways.

As for slow motion cinematography I’ll believe it when I see it, and
feel it, for myself. So far it’s been awful or just boring for me.

Sam, thank you again for your thoughtful insights and opinions and I
look forward to reading your response.


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